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DHB to appeal Breeze reinstatement

16 October 2008

DHB to appeal Breeze reinstatement

The BOPDHB will appeal an Employment Relations Authority ruling that it reinstate Ian Breeze as a consultant general surgeon at Tauranga Hospital.

Since 2002 Mr Breeze has been restricted to performing minor surgery having been found guilty of professional misconduct over the 1999 death of a patient.

Mr Breeze was also found guilty of professional misconduct by the Medical Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal in September 2003 in relation to his care of the same patient. In 2004 he was ruled to be in breach of the Health and Disability Act over the care and treatment of two further patients.

Following these findings the Medical Council required Mr Breeze to undergo extensive retraining which the DHB supported him to undertake at another DHB.

Mr. Breeze has since been seeking full reinstatement to his previous consultant general surgeon position.

The Medical Council, in a letter of 3 May 2007, following attempts to retrain over the previous three years by Mr. Breeze, advised that Mr Breeze could only be considered competent at the level of advanced trainee, and that he could only work as a consultant, “depending on the environment he works in. That environment would have to be supportive …”.

“The DHB has canvassed widely the views of medical, nursing and allied health staff. While there is some support for Mr Breeze, this is in no way universal,” says chief operating officer Graham Dyer.

“A number of staff have expressed that they do not feel that they could work with or support Mr Breeze. The need for Mr Breeze to be supported is a key condition set by the Medical Council, for his return to full consultant status. This is a condition that the DHB does not believe can be met at Tauranga Hospital.”

Mr Dyer says remarks by the Employment Relations Authority that colleagues and other clinical staff will simply have to work with Mr Breeze, ignores the potential risk to patient safety should staff not feel able to provide that support. “Maintaining patient safety must be the paramount concern to the DHB,” he says.

“We believe attempts to increase the complexity of the surgery Mr Breeze undertakes at Tauranga Hospital in an environment that the DHB cannot guarantee will be fully supportive is not in the best interests of the population we serve. Our key responsibility has to be to the people of the region,” he says.

Since completing his retraining over 18 months ago, and then being found by the Medical Council to be only competent at an advanced trainee level, Mr. Breeze has not performed any complex surgery. It is unclear whether given this time lag, further training and re-evaluation of his practice is required before he can consider returning to a full workload.

Given the high local profile of the cases that led to the initial limitation of Mr. Breeze’s practice and need for retraining, the BOPDHB is concerned that there will be a lack of public confidence in the services it provides if Mr Breeze were to return as a consultant general surgeon at Tauranga Hospital.

Mr Dyer says the BOP DHB is disappointed with the process failures in the Authority hearing and the consequent determination of the Authority member. “In our view, it is difficult to reconcile the decision with the evidence that was presented. We intend to appeal the decision to the Employment Court , and to seek a stay of any orders that may be made by the Employment Authority.”


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